Manitoba's largest landlord will ban smoking for new tenants in its apartments, primarily to reduce maintenance costs.
As of Oct. 1, Globe General Agencies in Winnipeg will no longer allow new tenants to smoke in their suites, on their patios or on their balconies.
Existing tenants and their guests will continue to be allowed to smoke until they move out of their suites.
The policy will apply to the approximately 60 apartment buildings Globe owns in Manitoba, which house about 10,000 tenants.
"It just means a clean, healthier, safe environment for everybody," senior property manager Diane Glover told CBC News on Monday.
The smoking ban will save on building maintenance costs and eventually reduce fire insurance costs, she said.
"All new tenants effective Oct. 1 - that's how we're advertising - that they're not allowed to smoke," Glover told CBC News on Monday.
"We've made all the necessary changes on our lease agreement reflecting that, as well as our application asking if the applicants smoke. And then, of course, we have it noted there as part of our policy now that we're non-smoking."
She admitted it will take some time for all 4,000-plus suites in Globe's buildings to become smoke-free, since existing tenants can still smoke.
Reaction from tenants mostly positive
The agency has received complaints from some tenants, but the majority applauded the move to ban smoking, Glover noted.
But Globe tenant Pat Rockwell said Monday he is upset with his landlord's new policy.
"It's an invasion of privacy. I mean, what I do in my apartment is my concern," Rockwell said.
Glover said the company has discussed the issue with the Manitoba Human Rights Commission and the province's Residential Tenancies Branch. As well, she stressed that existing tenants like Rockwell can still light up in their suites if they want to.
"We're honouring the tenants in the past that smoke, and we're letting them smoke up until the end of their tenancy with us," she said.
The Residential Tenancies Branch did not comment on Globe's policy on Monday. Roger Barsy, the branch's director of consumer and corporate affairs, said his agency may have to rule on the matter if a tenant files a complaint.
Barsy said he was not surprised a landlord would consider a smoking ban in apartments.
"I'm surprised that it hasn't come up before this time," he said. "So I wouldn't be surprised that other landlords would adopt this policy."
Murray Gibson, executive director of the Manitoba Tobacco Reduction Alliance, applauded Globe's new policy.
"No one has a right to smoke, even in their own home. It's not an established right," he said Monday.
Gibson said he expects more landlords to follow suit with their own no-smoking policies.
"It's obvious we cannot legislate this within people's homes, but certainly there are policies that can be implemented to better protect people within housing establishments."